Many warm greetings to everyone and we wish you all a very happy New Year.
It is that time of the year again when we usher in another New Year and get ready to say our farewell to yet another year of our lives. Jetsunla and I send you all our warmest wishes and pray that the coming year be filled with joy and ever-blossoming wisdom.
I remember as a child thinking that a whole year is so long. Twelve months, thirty odd days a month, fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty five days—all this would seem like an eternity. Whenever, I asked a question to which the answer was “next year,” it would seem like a period too far away to even plan for or think about in the present.
But I am sure, along with me, many of you too will feel as we grow older, that the years now just pass by in leaps and bounds. A year seems to just swiftly pass by and the past twelve months seem nothing more than a fleeting moment. As is said,
The three realms of existence are as transient as autumn clouds.
The birth and death of beings are like a theatrical performance.
The lives of beings pass by like a flash of lightening in the sky,
Rushing down like a cascading waterfall down a steep mountain.
The flow of time is both inevitable and inexorable. And with each passing year, the years become more fleeting. The flow of time seems that much more swift. Yet, as practitioners, we have a choice. A choice of whether we will allow the flow of time to just carry us like a windswept leaf or choose to live with deepened awareness making each passing day matter.
How do we do that?
How do we make each day matter instead of just floating through the dizzying haze that the world seems to be sometimes?
We are not talking about accomplishing something great each day but rather, that each day we wake up to a little more joy, a little more acceptance and a little more clarity.
Joy that one is alive and open to a world of possibilities. Acceptance that things may not always be perfect and we may have some ways to go but that at least we have started on the journey and the potential to achieve goodness, is very accessible. And clarity that while time passes and the truth of impermanence manifests in manifold ways, there is but still something good in that.
The passage of time teaches us and makes us wiser if we are aware of all its lessons. The good that happens enriches us and empowers us. The bad gives us some bitter lessons but also brings to mind that everything passes.
As my teacher always used to say, “Even the worst of things that can happen to you has a helpful lesson somewhere in it for you to learn and benefit from. You have to just see it and take from it the lesson it bestows.”
This year I have been thinking a great deal on the theme of metamorphosis. The change that is possible only due to the very nature of all things being subject to change. And we can choose what our metamorphosis will be like because like it or not, we will change.
When we meet our old friends whom we have not seen since childhood or college years, we are often surprised by how much they have changed. Similarly, it is so with friends or family we don’t see for many years. And in their eyes, it is inevitable that we too will seem different and changed.
Now it is really up to us what they will see.
What have we morphed into from our old days and old ways?
Sometimes I find it a fun exercise to picture a meeting between my younger and older selves and what we would tell each other. It is a fun thing to try each New Year.
For me personally, the passage of time has brought me to an awareness, that one of the ways not to be windswept by outer circumstances, is to break free of whatever routines and systems we make for ourselves.
There is the danger of forgetting to reflect on the passing of time and remain stuck to what is familiar, safe and stagnant.
Pride and insecurity, both actually just the two sides of the same coin, often cushions itself on what is familiar. And familiarity finds its most discomfort in change. We can get stuck, hesitant to take a leap and shed our old beliefs and dogmas.
When we do that, time seems to just race by as we live each passing year like the last year and the year before that and so on.
Therefore, the New Year is a good year to seize control and decide that yes, this is the year I will have the courage to take the leap—to metamorphosize into all that I can be without limiting myself and giving into self-doubt. It is the time to embrace change for the better or at least give it all you have got so that in the end, there are no regrets.
The movement of time is constant but if one is wise, this movement of time and its transient nature teaches us something very profound. Real celebration is the celebration of this wisdom.
This New Year, let us celebrate this wisdom that change can possibly be an agent of a beautiful metamorphosis. A true transformation can only begin when one has the courage to let go of the things that bind us more than free us.
May as we move into a new year and a new decade, resolve to give rise to the wisdom and courage that allows the change to bring the best that is within us. And may this innate beauty and extraordinary potential become the basis of sanity and happiness for all.
On behalf of Minling Sangyum Kushog, Jetsün Rinpoche, Dungse Rinpoche, Jetsunla and the Mindrolling Sangha here, I send our very warmest and heartfelt wishes to all of you for a truly wonderful New Year filled with delight and auspiciousness!